COVID-19: AU appoints Okonjo-Iweala, others as special envoys

As part of the efforts to clamp down on the impact of COVID-19, the African Union (AU) has appointed Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Dr. Donald Kaberuka; Mr. Tidjane Thiam and Mr. Trevor Manuel as special envoys to mobilise international support for the continent to address the economic challenges African countries would face as a result of the pandemic.

AU Chairperson and the President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, who disclosed this in a statement issued yesterday, said the special envoys would be tasked with soliciting rapid and concrete support as pledged by the G20, the European Union and other international financial institutions.

He explained that the appointment of the special envoys would expedite the process of securing economic support to enable countries on the continent to respond swiftly to this grave public health emergency.

Ramaphosa noted that the envoys brought with them a wealth of experience and enjoyed longstanding relationships in the international financial community.

He stated: “In the light of the devastating socio-economic and political impact of the pandemic on African countries these institutions need to support African economies that are facing serious economic challenges with a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa, including deferred debt and interest payments.

“The impact of the pandemic has been global in both scale and reach, and this necessitates coordinated international action to capacitate all countries to respond effectively, but most particularly developing countries that continue to shoulder a historical burden of poverty, inequality, and underdevelopment.

“The sentiment expressed in two recent letters written to the G20 by a group of world leaders and a team of esteemed economists underscore the importance of bolstering health systems in poorer countries; this can only be done with the support of the international community.” Agency report

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